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  • Writer's pictureGREEN Hospitality

Can Hong Kong Hotels Up Their Games in Energy Efficiency Through Design and Innovation?

In Hong Kong, approximately 42,000 private buildings and more than 8,000 government-owned buildings account for over 90% of electricity consumption and 60% of greenhouse gas emissions. It is evident that improving energy efficiency in buildings is urgent, if Hong Kong is to meet its 2030 carbon reduction target of 65-70%. But buildings’ large contribution to greenhouse gas emissions also means that they present great decarbonisation potential.

GREEN Think Tank: Urgent Conversations on the Hospitality Industry’s Journey to Energy Efficiency

Amongst the organisations upholding high sustainability standards for buildings in Hong Kong is BEAM Society Limited, whose BEAM Plus Assessment Tools take a lifecycle approach to measuring building sustainability: from design and construction management, materials and waste, energy and water use to indoor and outdoor environmental quality, and innovations. It also takes into account embodied carbon, which is responsible for 30-40% of a building’s total emissions.

How effective are BEAM Society’s standards and assessment? The buildings that comply with BEAM Plus’ comprehensive set of sustainability performance criteria are believed to have collectively saved an estimated 710,850MWh of electricity every year, enough to support the electricity consumption of 146,000 Hong Kong households. Not only that, the amount of electricity saved translates into the reduction of 506,350 tonnes of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to planting 22 million trees.

Recently, BEAM Society has tabled suggested revision to its BEAM Plus Interiors standards to enable hospitality companies to enhance their corporate social responsibility (e.g., occupational health and safety), increase hygiene standards (e.g., water quality survey, minimum ventilation performance, indoor air quality etc.), incorporate green procurement (e.g., use of green products, energy-efficient appliances), and promote zero-waste design (e.g., enhanced waste handling facilities), according to Ir. CS Ho, General Manager of BEAM Society Limited.

This is good news for hotels that would like to respond to increasing traveller appetite for hotels that implement sustainable practices and solutions. According to’s latest Sustainable Travel Report, 83% of global travellers think sustainable travel is vital, with 61% saying the pandemic has made them want to travel more sustainably in the future. However, almost half (49%) think that there aren’t enough sustainable travel options available, with 53% admitting that they would be upset if their accommodation of choice stops them from being sustainable.

So what is holding hotels back from adopting more innovative solutions to reduce negative environmental impact? Specifically, across hotel properties in Hong Kong, what are the roadblocks faced by hotel brands in adopting energy-efficiency solutions?

In March, GREEN Hospitality held the “Journey to Energy Efficiency in Hospitality through Design & Innovation” Think Tank to facilitate constructive discussions between stakeholders from the hospitality industry, solution providers, and thought leaders, with the aim to identify the roadblocks and solutions.

Low Uptake of Energy-efficient Solutions by the Hospitality Industry

For some hospitality brands, the intention may exist, but actually implementing sustainability practices proves a challenge due to the high expectations guests may have of a luxury experience. “We want to do more green or sustainable assessments. For example, we are using water-saving devices, but some of our guests would complain about the weak water pressure in the showerhead,” said Lawrence Kwan, Director of Engineering at The Peninsula Hong Kong, whose team has had to look for other areas to reduce water consumption, such as the kitchen.

Stakeholders from the hospitality industry also spoke about the lack of financial aid and initiatives as challenges for retrofitting and energy-efficiency technologies. Furthermore, the existing green building standards are not specifically catered for hotels, and the lax policies on retrofitting and energy-efficiency only further disincentivise hotels from adopting the solutions, especially in the COVID times of budget constraints.

For some hotel sustainability managers, the challenge lies in lukewarm interest amongst key decision-makers and low employee buy-in for sustainability initiatives. One of the reasons, said Julia Monk, a leading architect and interior designer in the field of hospitality designs, is that many hotels in Hong Kong are family-owned legacy brands, and they are less incentivised to take sustainability actions.

But sustainability shouldn’t have to be a compromise, said Ji Won Choi, Project Manager at BEE Incorporations. “Working with international hotel brands, we can see that sustainability has become a business decision. If you can convince hotel owners to look at the market perspective of sustainability, then you can drive decisions further.”

Solution Providers Making Little Headway into Hospitality Industry For providers of innovative energy-efficiency solutions, gaining trust from hospitality practitioners is one of the main hurdles of scaling their businesses and solutions.

Citing his experience with potential clients in the hospitality industry, Max Pagel, CTO and Co-founder of Singapore-based SensorFlow, said that since hospitality practitioners don’t know how energy consumption is being measured, it is difficult to establish trust and get buy-in for solutions. At the same time, hotel practitioners are often not equipped with the knowledge to provide the right kind of data for energy consumption measurement. This prevents solution providers from customising the right solution, which further diminishes hotels’ trust in energy consumption measurement.

One way to tackle the trust issue is to identify hospitality clients who have adopted innovative solutions, and turn them into a reference point of peer review to influence others, said Travis Kan, General Manager of Energy Management at CLPe Solutions Limited.

What are the Possible Solutions? 1. Engage government to create tools, incentives, and reward schemes: To address the issue of insufficient financial aid and retrofitting initiatives in place within the hospitality industry, sustainability specialists, thought leaders, and the industry should engage the government to create tools, incentives, and reward schemes to incentivise the hospitality sector to pursue retrofitting in an economically viable way. Here, GREEN Hospitality will coordinate with experts and industry professionals to develop these schemes to approach the government.

2. Tailor certification labels and technology solutions suited to the hospitality industry: Already, solution providers such as BEAM Society Limited and BEE Incorporations are helping hotel groups build sustainability standards and best practices that are in line with their brand value. However, in order to get more hotel properties on board to implement sustainable solutions and have their effort certified, more solution providers will need to tailor their certification labels and technology solutions for the specific requirements of hotel buildings and operations.

At GREEN Hospitality, we will facilitate this development. We will also initiate conversations and collaboration between solution providers and hotels, to ensure the needs of both parties are met in the process of customising hospitality-specific solutions.

3. Education for consumers and hotel employees: The discrepancy between guest expectations and green initiatives can be addressed by educating consumers on the necessary behaviour change from all parties, which will be crucial to accelerating change within the hospitality sector. Likewise, education, training, and upskilling is needed to bridge the knowledge gap of hotel engineers and other employees involved in implementing sustainability solutions.

GREEN Hospitality will look to facilitate collaborative strategy planning initiatives, such as organising a “Sustainable Tourism Campaign”, to provide opportunities for consumer education and training and upskilling for hotel employees to learn about innovative solutions.

Filling the knowledge-to-action gap requires broad cross-sector collaboration. At GREEN Hospitality, we are committed to serving as the platform and providing opportunities to stakeholders in the hospitality industry and innovative solutions providers, so as to facilitate constructive dialogues to advance towards sustainability goals.

Inspired by the rich knowledge exchange and collaborative nature of our events on sustainability in the hospitality industry? Become a member and support GREEN's initiatives! Learn more about our upcoming events, and subscribe to our newsletters to stay tuned to the latest happenings in the sustainable hospitality landscape!

This Think Tank by GREEN Hospitality was made possible by:

  • Venue Sponsor: Eaton Club

  • Content Partner: CLPe Solutions Limited

  • Content Partner: BEAM Society Limited

We would like to thank all of you for attending the event:

Carmen Ng, Director of Sustainability, Langham Hospitality Group

Cary Chan, JP, Executive Director, Hong Kong Green Building Council Limited

Charlie Chan, Senior Account Manager, AmCham

IR CS Ho, General Manager, BEAM Society Limited

Hannah Chung, Senior Manager of Sustainability, Melco Resorts & Entertainment

Ji Won Choi, Project Manager, BEE Incorporations

Joey Lau, Assistant Manager of Sustainable Development, John Swire & Sons (HK) Ltd.

Joey Mok, Manager of Marketing and Training, BEAM Society Limited

Julia Monk, Founder, MONK

Kelvin Wong, CFO, Regal Hotel International

Kevin Chan, Senior Project Manager, Swire Hotels

KK Chan, Director of Engineering, East Hotel & Residences (Swire)

Lawrence Kwan, Director of Engineering, The Peninsula Hong Kong

Marcus Leung, Head of Product, CLP Innovation

Max Pagel, CTO and Co-founder, SensorFlow (Singapore)

Natalie Ip, Head of Sustainability, Dorsett Hospitality International

Nathaniel Chan, Manager of Vice-Chairman’s Office, Regal Hotel International

Nikki Spurdle, Head of Sustainable Innovation, British Consulate General

Shuxin Lim, Sustainable Development Analyst, Sustainable Office Solutions (SOS)

Travis Kan Hon Pang, CLPe Solutions Limited, AmCham Energy & ESG committee

Tiffany Lee, Events and Communications Manager (Trade), British Consulate-General

Tim Lo, BEAM Society Ltd.

*Acknowledgment & Disclaimer:

Some of these events are funded by the Innovation & Technology Commission of the HKSAR.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material/event (or by members of the project team) do not reflect the views of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, the Innovation and Technology Commission, or the Vetting Committee of the General Support Programme of the Innovation and Technology Fund.

在本刊物/活動內 (或由項目小組成員) 表達的任何意見、研究成果、結論或建議,並不代表香港特別行政區政府、創新科技署或創新及科技基金一般支援計劃評審委員會的觀點。


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